The Long Journey to GiGi
A service animal can be a great benefit, and friend, for a person with a disability. Service animals are trained from birth to provide their owners with a spectrum of supports. Finding the perfect service animal can be a challenge, taking time and even more hard work. Patti Kruppo, mother of STC member Evan, shares her family’s journey of getting a service dog for her son Evan, and some of the obstacles her family faced along the way. Evan’s new service dog, GiGi, has become a loving member of the Kruppo family, and provides Evan with some of the supports he needs.


Advocating to Allow Students with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities to Have Another Year Before Aging Out of High School

Families and advocacy groups have been arguing to allow intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) students aging out of high school the ability to return to school for the 2020-2021 year. Students with IDD age out of high school after their 6th year, and since COVID-19 interrupted the 2019-2020 school year, many students need another year to finish high school with the appropriate supports to assist them with post-secondary opportunities. Even without the added stress of COVID-19, the IDD population has historically struggled to get much-needed post-secondary services provided to them.

Recently, the ‘New York State Education Department COVID19 Memo: Over Age Students’ was distributed (though not widely), stating that all school districts should be legally obligated to provide one more academic year of service if a family makes the request. As we are now in the full swing of the school year, it is important that you reach out to your school’s guidance counselor, social worker, and CSE chair, to request another academic year of schooling if you feel it would benefit your child.

If you have questions about special services available for your child through their New York State public school, you may contact the Central Regional Office at any time via email at or via phone at (315) 428-4556. You may also contact New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education via email at or via phone at 518-486-7462 (Program Development and Support Services) for general questions about special education in New York State.

Are you interested advocating and being a part of the movement? Please visit the links below to explore more about this issue and see what you can do to help!
Lunch & Learn Webinar Series - Save the Date!
Promoting Health During the Pandemic
Southern Tier Connect Care Managers have worked diligently to help our members navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of our members and staff is our number one priority. With safety in mind, Southern Tier Connect proactively closed all offices to help prevent the spread of the virus. All face-to-face visits were temporarily suspended unless medically necessary, and all staff began working remotely on March 16, 2020. Care Managers have tracked and reported any person who has been quarantined or has been tested for COVID -19.

Southern Tier Connect serves 1,201 people and families. We have had 27 members who were quarantined and a total of 99 people who were tested for COVID-19. 97 of those tested came back negative and two people tested positive. In the two positive cases, members had mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization. We are pleased to report that we currently have zero cases of COVID-19 among the Southern Tier Connect staff.
Assessment Tools Used in Care Management
How do OPWDD and Care Management Organizations like Southern Tier Connect determine the right mix of service and supports for people? The process is not simple, but at the heart of choosing the right supports are assessments. In this article we will go into detail about the differences, similarities, and uses of the two primary assessment tools used by OPWDD and CCOs—CAS and I AM.